Swedes Overtake Swiss in Race for Jumping Team Gold

Photo: Peder Fredricson and H&M All In. (FEI/Claes Jakobsson)

On a day of drama and very mixed fortunes, the host nation climbed to the top of the team Jumping leaderboard at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg (SWE). The crowd went wild when Peder Fredricson sealed it with another spectacular clear from his Olympic individual silver medal-winning ride H&M All In, and this result has also cemented the pair at the top of the individual rankings.

“It was a great feeling walking out of the arena after taking my country into the lead!” — Peder Fredricson (SWE)

The cream came to the top over Louis Konickx’s 14-fence track, and clear rounds counted for a lot, the Belgians rocketing up from eighth place to lie joint-third with the Irish going into the medal-deciding final round after producing four spectacular fault-free efforts. The leaders from Switzerland lost their grip when they had to add five faults from Steve Guerdat (Bianca) and a single time penalty from Romain Duguet (TwentytwodesBiches) after Nadja Peter Steiner (Saura de Fondcombe) racked up 13 faults. Martin Fuchs was clear with the enigmatic Clooney, however, so they only dropped one place, and Fuchs remains well within sight of the individual podium, in fifth behind Frenchman Kevin Staut (Reveur de Hurtebise), while Portugal’s Luciana Diniz is in third and Germany’s Marcus Ehning is in runner-up position.

Despite Staut’s second brilliant clear, French chances of adding the European team title to last summer’s Olympic gold now seems like a distant dream. In silver medal position after the opening competition they plummeted down the leaderboard when all three others collected nine faults each. The time-allowed was influential, “but if you rode it smart it wasn’t impossible to get,” said Swedish pathfinder Henrik von Eckermann. “My individual placing isn’t interesting anymore. I’m too far behind, but I think it was a better choice to take the one time fault for the team than trying to get the time,” he added. Team-mate Malin Baryard-Johnson (H&M Cue Channa) produced a brilliant clear so Douglas Lindelow’s (Zacramento) single mistake at the bogey last fence, a water-tray vertical that fell multiple times, could be discounted leaving Sweden with only von Eckermann’s single fault to add to their running scoreline of 8.21.

Ireland’s Denis Lynch (All Star) looked set for a clear that would have left his team in gold medal position only to fault at that same final fence. And, not for the first time, it fell to Cian O’Connor (Good Luck) to ride to his country’s rescue despite a brilliant opening round from Shane Sweetnam (Chaqui Z), because Bertram Allen (Hector van d’Abdijhoeve) was eliminated for a fall at the matchstick oxer. O’Connor kept a clean sheet and lies individually seventh, behind fellow-countryman Sweetnam in sixth, and it’s all to play for going into the final team round, under lights.

Sweden heads Switzerland by less than three faults and the Irish and Belgians are less than a single fault further behind as the action gets underway. Get ready for a nail-biter.

Martin Fuchs SUI, talking about his crucial clear round with Clooney that kept Team Switzerland in silver medal position ahead of the final round of the team event: “It was a bit of a wild ride, but at the end the clear round counts. My horse jumped amazing today. I am ready for tomorrow. There is no water tomorrow and that’s good for us!”

Cian O’Connor IRL, talking about his ride that kept Ireland in joint-third position: “Good luck jumped fantastic today again. Okay, we had a misfortune with Bertram’s ride, but that’s what team-mates are for. Hopefully we will do better and we will keep fighting tomorrow!”

By Louise Parkes

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